chat Playback singer Devan on his new role as composer for Bale Pandiya
Devan Ekambaram is all charged and has reason to be. For, here’s a successful playback singer who’s been around for over 10 years, sung many hit numbers in Tamil, Telugu and Kannada and is gearing up for a new challenge — as composer. The young singer is busy tuning songs for Bale Pandiya, a film to be directed by his buddy, graphic designer Siddharth Chandrashekar.
As you strike up a conversation with Devan, you are amazed at his razor-sharp memory. He recalls every detail of our very first meeting in 1998 at the launch of his non-film album with SPB Charan, Kamban Oru Kannilae. “Yeah, I do have a knack of remembering faces and dates,” he laughs.
The smooth-voiced singer, who has come a long way since his ‘Oh Maria’ days (his first song for Kadhalar Dhinam, A.R. Rahman, 1999), is excited about his foray into composing. “Composing is something I’ve always dreamt of. With Bale Pandiya, that dream is fulfilled. I’ve composed six songs, and sung one. The music blends reggae, pop, folk and hip hop… to suit the mood of the film, which is a thriller with a comic twist.”
How did he bag this project? “I’ve known Siddharth for 10 years. While discussing this project, he asked me to suggest a composer for his debut vehicle. I immediately said I was ready for the job.” The film is slated for August release while the music is expected to hit the stands by July-end.
For this engineering dropout from New Jersey, music was his only mission. “Music has kept me alive. When I see my friends in the U.S. now, I am glad I took that decision to come to India and make a career in music,” says Devan. A chance meeting with Rahman turned Devan’s fortunes. “He heard my performance at the Screen Awards in 1998. I then got a call from his office asking me if I could sing for him. That’s how ‘Oh Maria’ happened. To work with him was an amazing experience.” He adds, “But the song that really shot me to fame was ‘Ore Nyabagam’ (Minnalae). Believe me, even today college goers tell me they love that song. And these people must have been just 9 or 10 when the song hit the scene!”
‘Smiyai..’ from Kandukondaen Kandukondaen was another super winner. “It was my first solo for a hero.” The 30-something counts ‘Macarena,’ ‘Manjal Pookaal’ and ‘Ichitha’ among his other favourite numbers.
Devan reconnected with Rahman thanks to the reality show, “Mission Ustad.” “I met him after seven years. That’s when he called me to do some vocal arranging for the re-recording of Jodhaa Akbar!”
His quest to try out something new led him to acting. “I did small roles in films such as Parthiban Kanavu and Jayam Kondan. But I am happier behind the mike than in front of the camera,” he smiles.